Police Chief Greg Graham was talking this week about red-light enforcement cameras plus a mobile camera or two to catch speeders.
The cameras, ten or so, will be in place in Cedar Rapids by early summer.
The chief can go on about how he’s bringing the enforcement cameras to the city to reduce the number of crashes here.
He cites studies that show cities that use enforcement cameras can cut crashes by 20 percent. In 2008, he said the Cedar Rapids Police Department worked 5,000 crashes, taking up countless hours of police work. The number of hours worked on accidents far exceeds the number of hours the department is now devoting to patrolling neighborhoods, he said. And then there is all the gnarled metal; the motorist hospitalizations; the insurance claims.
Graham dismisses any suggestion that the cameras are all about revenue. Even so, the cameras are projected to bring $750,000 a year in ticket revenue into the department’s coffers. And that is just the department’s share. A private company will own the cameras, install them and maintain them and even collect the revenue.
It’s hard to imagine the cameras can generate that kind of revenue until Graham keeps talking.
Firstly, the chief, who came to Cedar Rapids from Ocala, Fla., last June, says people run a lot of red lights in Cedar Rapids. In fact, Graham, who always wears his police uniform, has handed out red-light tickets to people himself.
Secondly, Graham hinted that an individual ticket might cost some money because the vendor’s fee may be added to the ticket amount not included in it.
And thirdly, he suggested that a mobile camera designed to catch speeders might work spots on Interstate 380, including the curves through the downtown. It sounded like a revenue gold mine.
Graham challenged residents to prove him wrong so the Police Department gets no revenue from the cameras.
“How great would that be?” he said.